Unless you enjoy feeling like a cute little mouse cornered by a hungry anaconda, it’s best to always be prepared to tackle any interview question that’s thrown your way. If you’re going to serve yourself up as the main course, it should be on your terms, with full control over what sauce and spices you dish out to a hiring manager. One of the more popular questions that employers like to ask a candidate is, “What are you looking for in a new position?”
I know what you’re thinking, “I’m looking for everything this one offers…duh.” While I’m sure the hiring manager would appreciate you injecting a bit of humor into the conversation here and there, this is certainly not the time to put your stand up comedy skills to the test.
Believe it or not, this question can give an employer a lot of insight into your work style, professional goals, and individual strengths. To guarantee you nail your answer and set yourself apart from the competition, here’s how to successfully approach this question.
Emphasize Key Skills
Although your interviewer is essentially handing you the microphone, you still want to craft a response that coincides with the needs of the role you’re vying for. While a fat paycheck, free lunches, and company-sponsored happy hours may be high on your list, from the hiring manager’s perspective, these items aren’t a way for you to bring value to the company. Instead, your answer should focus on your key skills that you’re looking to grow and utilize with your next employer.
Discuss What Drives You
What defines meaningful work for you? What type of work inspires you and gets you motivated each day? Employers are looking for individuals that have their own sense of purpose and can self-reflect on the type of work that drives them to continue reaching higher day after day. Maybe you thrive in environments that give you creative liberty or you want to work for a company that allows you to not only create reports, but present them to clientele as well. Whatever your story may be, communicate to the hiring manager what motivates you as a professional and how this position caters to those areas.
Share Your Vision of Your Career Goals
Companies want to invest in workers who have a long-term vision for their career. Your interviewer is interested in hearing about the short and long-term goals you’re striving to accomplish and whether you have a forward-thinking mindset when it comes to visualizing how you’d like to grow in this position. If you aren’t thinking about the future of your career and cannot communicate your goals to a hiring manager, it’ll be received as a lack of interest in your development as a professional.
Your interviewer will also see this as a strong indicator that you’re a flight risk and aren’t planning to stay with the company long-term. To deliver an impressive answer, you want to highlight how your professional goals align with what the company has to offer. Maybe they just acquired a new company, are opening a new location, or are expanding their sales and marketing operations to tap into a new market. These are just a few examples of topics you can leverage in your response, speaking to how you can see yourself advancing your skills, taking on new responsibilities, or helping to pilot new company initiatives.
Conclude with a Company-Focused Statement
To put the finishing touches on your response, guide the conversation back towards the interviewer, summing up your talking points and addressing why the prospect of joining their team excites you. Whether it’s their training program, international presence, clear career path towards a management role, or any other area that complements your career goals, you want to wrap up your answer with a positive statement about the company.
Your response should vary slightly for each interview, acknowledging the specific responsibilities and needs of the company and position you’re applying for. However, the core of your response should follow the structure outlined above and speak to your strengths and goals as a professional.